February 7, 2013
We were sitting around in the garage the other day, looking over the chassis, and we could not find a single task left to do on the frame. We are flat out of things to work on. After a year and a half of cutting, grinding, drilling, tapping, shaping, trimming, and welding, our fabrication days appear to be over. It's too soon to tell if we're going to miss them.
To keep busy while we wait for the weather to break, we made a couple of parts that I'm not sure we'll ever really need. A while back we welded a bracket to the left side of the driver's foot well in case we ever wanted to mount a dead pedal for the clutch. So the other day we built a dead pedal for the clutch, and for old time's sake we made it out of our favorite 1/8" wall rectangular tubing. Nowadays of course that's way too heavy for us, so we drilled it full of holes, killing still more time by chamfering each hole so it'd look like a real racing pedal.
Despite our best efforts, or maybe becaue of it, we're not really happy with the pedal. The mounting flange got in the way when we tried to drill some of the holes, so they didn't all line up perfectly. And the pedal is kind of short. You can rest your heel on it, but that's about it. So this pedal is actually more of a prototype for the real pedal, and it's obvious now the pedal should be made in two parts, with light gauge steel and a taller footrest. So the next one will be much better, if we ever get around to making it.
The thing is, there may not actually be enough room in the driver's foot well for a dead pedal. There's barely enough room in there for the pedals that are still alive. Right now it seems to fit okay, but we don't have any other pedals installed yet. So even though you can rest your foot on the dead pedal and move it easily to where we think the clutch pedal will be, that may not be a definitive test. So we'll have to try it out under actual driving conditions, and if it turns out we can't operate the clutch, well, that'll save us from having to build a second prototype.
In another fit of boredom we went ahead and drilled out all 98 holes for the aluminum rear bulkhead. We convinced ourselves that it would be better to drill the holes before we paint the frame instead of after, because that way you get some of the primer inside the tubes, which seems like it might be a good thing. Although probably not. In any case, you always run the risk of scratching new paint whenever you get near it with a drill, so better to scratch the bare metal now. Which we did. Several times.
We made the drilling job somewhat easier by spending another $4 and getting a foot-long 1/8" drill bit. So drilling holes around the edges and in the corners was a snap. We have been told by people who build cars on a regular basis that 1/8" rivets are too small for this application, but we're not convinced. We have many reasons for going with 1/8" rivets. The bulkhead is not a structural piece, and the tubing underneath is triangulated. And don't forget the 98 rivets. Also, most of our clecos are 1/8". So I don't think you need any more reasons than that.
It's not like all of our work this past week has been about wasting time. We did a few productive things. Like, for example, we cleaned up both master cylinders. The clutch MC needs to be rebuilt, but that won't take long. The brake MC isn't rebuildable, at least by normal people who don't have factory tools, but ours looks to be in pretty good shape, and it stopped our donor reasonably well last year once the brake pads scraped most of the rust off the rotors. With all new rotors and pads, we expect similar or better performance from the Locost.
We actually do have a few more things to build, like the front fender stays, and maybe a glove box. We also have to come up with half a dozen aluminum body panels. But those are all way too far down the road to worry about now. What we're mostly going to be doing for the next six months is assembling. And painting. Besides painting the chassis—and we may have some good news on that front in a couple of days—we have a whole bunch of miscellaneous parts to paint, including the engine, differential, suspension arms, brake backing plates, roll bar, and much more. We can't wait.
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